Day 1 – First train ride, Christmas Markets & fellow Canadians
The morning started off very hectic; between the daily task of getting Perrine off to school and trying to pack a week in a bookbag (leaving space might i add for purchase of course). I was actually pretty excited to take this trip. Thankfully the station for the eurostar is relatively easy to get to from my own train station which took no time at all.
Thank god I took my host dad’s advice and came to the station early because they allowed us to board 30 mins before we were supposed to leave. At this point I was feeling pretty confident in that fact that I had made it through immigration and to my proper quai with time to spare. I descended the stairs to the train and entered the first door i saw and found a seat with my number 21 on it. I was sitting for probably 2 minutes before a couple came and told me that I was in there seat. I showed them my ticket in annoyance with my seat number on it which they proceeded to show me that the word “voie” actually means something and wasn’t just an extra number on my ticket. Apparently there are different cars so I happened to be in 18 when I should have been all the way in 10. Whoops. Why I thought that there would only be one seat numbered 21 i have no idea.
Anyways, let’s just say it all worked out for the better anyways. Car 18 is actually for “business class “ members which apparently my ticket was for. Another whoops. I swear my blonde is showing more and more lately. so you may wonder why I have a business class ticket considering that’s so not my style but my host dad willingly offered me one of his tickets he gets through work. Another reason why I am so god awfully lucky to have such an amazing host family. Business class, consisted of only half of the seats being filled of english speaking businessmen and then there was me, a poor Canadian au pair; gotta love it.
Along with business class came the free food. My favorite part of travelling! Sadly because it was only 11am I turned down the free wine regretting it after the fact of course. The trip was a fast 2 hours and before I knew it we were there.
Shockingly they do have buses like I’d imagined!
What a beautiful view
Arriving in London I instantly knew that I was going to love the city, maybe not the prices, but the atmosphere was completely different. The people for one thing were NICE, which is refreshing to say the least when comparing it to my experiences so far in Paris. Once again I didn’t have internet access but I downloaded an offline map before leaving which was going to be my guide for the day. I knew that I was going to be alone all day which was honestly fine by me because it gave me a chance to walk and adventure the city by foot. I swear that I went into every store possible that I thought would have been the least bit interesting. Thanks to my grandfather Cress I have a HUGE love for running errands and am always running between shops to scope the best deals. There weren’t many “deals” but I sure did find some pretty neat things that I know I can’t get back home.
The beautiful Christmas Markets
I arrived at the hostel 6 hours later than when I arrived at the train station so needless to say I was tired, cold and in desperate need for some type of alcohol beverage (sorry mom!) I was in a room with 13 other people who turned out to be an amazing crowd mostly Americans to be honest. When I was walking down the stairs to the bar I saw someone wave to me outside the doors which through me for a loop considering I had just arrived and knew absolutely no one. Turns out he thought i was someone else but hey! he was Canadian and i ended up spending the whole evening with him and some Australian ladies I met! When I first entered the bar I was alone but if you know me well enough i’m not the shy type or haven’t been lately since being abroad.
I saw a group of 4 girls who looked about my age laughing and drinking, kind of making me jealous more than anything, so what do i do? Grab a drink and introduce myself as the Canadian who’s actually living in Paris but travelling in London. Introductions are always interesting that’s for sure. Their response to my spontaneous action? “you know what girl, I like your confidence”
Confidence.. something that I recently just acquired. I mean, I’ve always had a hint of it but for different reasons. Growing up I used my ability to play sports as my confidence booster but once those days ended, I kind of lost myself for a while. Since arriving in Europe I’m learning who I am again, what makes me happy and how to simply enjoy life, all because of my new-found confidence. I’m not afraid to try and speak french and be wrong or make decisions that may not be the best choice, but that’s finally okay with me. Perfection is invisible.
Day 2 – Hop on hop off Buses, pee breaks, and cards
I woke up around 9:30 thinking that I was going to be late to meet my friends Julie and Courtney who had arrived at midnight the night before. Come to find out London is an hour behind Paris, who knew. After having a horrible breakfast of toast and ham, (shame on you belushis) we met our other friend Katie in the lobby to plan our day. The girls found this hop on hop off bus that happened to be 10 pounds cheaper than what the hostel was offering but it wasn’t the easiest procedure thats for sure. We each bought the tickets on our dying cellphones and then had to forward the tickets to the hostel staff where they thankfully printed them out for us. Next task was to find the closest hop on stop, which was only 10 mins down the street; go us!
I’m going to admit that when my friends told me that this is what they wanted to do I was hesitant. First off because it was 23 pounds which is $44 in Canadian dollars. Secondly because the route was the same landmarks that I had seen the day before on my walking trip. Fast forward to a couple hours later you would’ve heard me saying how awesome I thought the bus trip was. Needless to say, if you’re in London splurge a little and get the bus ticket! They take you to all of the popular monuments and areas of the city while providing a audio playback of history and facts throughout the journey. We jumped off by Hyde park but were starving so instead of hitting the Winter wonderland we took a stroll which ended up taking almost 2 hours to find a place to eat with seating. After stuffing our bellies we went back to Hyde Park thinking we were going to be drinking mulled wine and eating chocolate all night only to see how insanely large the lineup was changing our plans a little. Okay a lot. We caught the bus again and headed back to the hostel.
I swear I have the bladder of a pregnant woman. I knew as soon as I hoped on that bus there was no way that I was going to be able to last the hour ride back without having to go. About 20 mins of suffering later I had left my friends on the bus and I hopped off at a random stop to find a bathroom. Stupid? Probably but when a girls gotta go, nothing is stopping her. Needless to say finding another bus wasn’t all the difficult and before I knew it I was back at the hostel joining my friends.
So what kind of shenanigans do 4 young girls do on a Saturday night in London? Oh boy, prepare yourselves …. We played rummy, drank cider and ate food in the hostel bare. I know, pretty crazy right? This is what happened when you’re an au pair and work all week! On the weekends you just want to relax which was fine by me last night considering I was recovering from my karaoke session the night before and I had a lovely cold. We called it a night around 11:30 and parted our ways for the night.
That night I just couldn’t sleep, probably a mix of the temperature of the room and my growing sickness. I decided not to waste the day and headed out exploring before my friends had even gotten out of their rooms. Once again I spent the day walking the city and finding things that I hadn’t seen the day before. It was drizzling but that wasn’t going to stop me from seeing things.